The Kansas City Chiefs have plenty of positives moving forward after their Week 3 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Now that they have already surpassed last year's win total (two) in just three games, Chiefs fans and followers are beginning to see drastic improvements in certain areas from last season to now.
In the Chiefs' 26-16 victory over the Eagles on Thursday, they demonstrated those improvements.
The Chiefs made it clear that they wanted to fix the flaws they had on both sides of the ball last season by making aggressive offseason moves. These moves ranged from acquiring Alex Smith at the quarterback position to hiring aggressive-minded Bob Sutton as defensive coordinator.
As we saw on Thursday, those offseason moves appear to be paying off.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Chiefs' Week 3 victory over the Eagles.
1. New and Improved Defense
The Chiefs defense played well on Thursday, giving up only 16 points to the Eagles, who averaged 31.5 points per game coming into Week 3. While the Chiefs did give up 431 total yards to the Eagles, the story to the Chiefs' success was their ability to generate turnovers.
By forcing five turnovers, the defense proved to be the difference in the game. Last season, the Chiefs only forced 13 turnovers, per Pro-Football-Reference.com. In Thursday's game, they managed to force more than a third of that amount.
Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Christopher Hansen mentioned the record-setting pace of the Chiefs defense.
The Chiefs are allowing just 11.3 points and 309 yards per game; both of them projected over 16 games would have been top five in 2012. With nine turnovers, the Chiefs are on pace for 48, which would have been tops in the league last year.
That's not to mention the 14 sacks the Chiefs now have through three games, which puts them on pace for 75—23 more than the best team in 2012. These statistics are due for correction with a larger sample size and two games against Peyton Manning, but the Chiefs are playing phenomenal defense thus far in 2013.
So it's so far, so good for the Chiefs defense. The strong performance against the Eagles' high-octane offense is encouraging moving forward.
2. Ball Protection
The Chiefs offense kept the no-turnover trend going against the Eagles. As stated earlier, the Eagles turned the ball over five times in the game, and it helped that the Chiefs offense did not hand the ball right back.
The lack of turnovers can be credited to QB Alex Smith. Despite his faults, he has been cautious of throwing the football into heavy coverage. Obviously, he is not the only person handling the ball during games. So the offensive backs and receivers have also done a superb job of ball security.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, the Chiefs turned the ball over 37 times last season, which was not an ideal recipe for success. But thus far in the season, Kansas City has shown that ball security is a high priority.
Thursday's game was a prime example of turnovers deciding the outcomes of games. The Chiefs were fortunate to be on the beneficial side of the turnover margin, and they look to continue that trend for the rest of the season.
3. Donnie Avery's Playmaking Ability
Donnie Avery was arguably the Chiefs' biggest weapon against the Eagles.
In Thursday's game, he showed that he has playmaking ability by going off for 11 receptions, 190 yards and a touchdown. He came through in the clutch on a couple of occasions during crucial third-down attempts, showing off speed and making tacklers miss in his first-down conversions.
After his impressive performance on Thursday night, the Chiefs now have another offensive weapon.
The Chiefs offense already has viable playmakers in Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe, but the emergence of Avery will bolster an offense that has had difficulty moving the ball at times this season.
4. The Composure of Andy Reid
In his return to Lincoln Financial Field after being fired as head coach of the Eagles, Andy Reid walked out of the stadium soaked in Gatorade and victorious.
It could have been easy for him to let his emotions get the best of him while he walked the sidelines in Philadelphia in the unfamiliar red colors. But the coach was stoic and almost emotionless as he led his new team to victory.
In his postgame interview, per KCChiefs.com, Reid expressed the feelings going through his head during his return to Philly.
"It's good to come back like this," said Reid. "You never think you're going to be in these shoes where you're back in the stadium. But nowhere has red felt better."
It was a great return as he came out on top against his former team. By setting his emotions aside and not letting the circumstances fluster his coaching, Reid reassured his team that he is there to win. Despite being a member of the Eagles organization for more than a decade, his blood now runs in Kansas City red rather than Philly green.
5. Alex Smith's Game Management
Alex Smith proved yet again that he can lead the Chiefs to victory. Despite having trouble finding the end zone during the game, Smith did just enough to clinch a victory in a closely contested contest.
He finished 22-of-35 passing in the game for 273 yards. His most impressive drive came at the 11:36 mark in the fourth quarter with his team up seven. He managed to put together a long, time-consuming drive that resulted in a field goal and melted away more than eight minutes of game clock in the process.
Even though Smith hardly puts up numbers that can be listed among the league's elite quarterbacks, his game management ability is one of the reasons the Chiefs have started 3-0.
And while he was a strong contributor to the Chiefs' win on Thursday night, his inability to fill the stats sheet was still subject to humor among social media.
If you need 3 yards, Alex Smith with get you 4. If you need 10 yards, Alex Smith will get you 4.— Aaron Nagler (@Aaron_Nagler) September 20, 2013
Alex Smith's philosophy is 'If life gives you lemonade, make lemons'— Fake SportsCenter (@FakeSportsCentr) September 20, 2013
I bet Alex Smith drives with the radio at a moderate level and his hands at 10 and 2— David Murphy (@ByDavidMurphy) September 20, 2013
All mockery aside, Smith's performance on Thursday night showed that he can get the job done offensively. He failed to find the end zone, but he also failed to throw the ball to the opposing team.
After all, he has had a great defense to back him up thus far in the season, and he hasn't had to play aggressively to win games. But if he continues to manage games as he did on Thursday against the Eagles, then the Chiefs will likely find themselves on the better end of close games.
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